Why prefer != over <> for Python 3.0?

Steven D'Aprano steve at REMOVE-THIS-cybersource.com.au
Sun Mar 30 03:23:35 CEST 2008

On Sat, 29 Mar 2008 12:49:05 -0700, Carl Banks wrote:

>> Please set it straight in 3.0, and if not, convince me with a good
>> reason of doing so, so that I can live with it and don't have to spend
>> the rest of my life in 2.x ;).
> 1. It's not going to change in Python 3.0.
> 2. It's a silly thing to care so much about that you will avoid using a
> langauge because of it.

I dislike the attitude that "oh, feature X is unimportant, why should we 
care about it?". It's often -- but not always -- said by those who do 
care very much about it themselves, except they prefer the way it is 
rather then the requested feature.

If Guido had a sudden brain tumor and replaced comparison operators with 
Fortran-style operators, it wouldn't destroy Python. It would just be a 
minor wart on an otherwise good language. So why should we care about 
using == instead of .EQ.?

Why does Python use # for comments instead of Basic-style remarks? Would 
it be silly to care if Python 3 discarded # and introduced REM?

I could belabor the obvious with dozens of syntax elements which, *in 
isolation*, it would be silly to care about. But syntax defines the feel 
of the language. Perl and Java have better (or at least *larger*) 
libraries, although arguably not as many "batteries included", but the 
syntax, oh my. We use Python because it is Python and not Perl or Basic 
or Fortran or Java. If the syntax changes, so does the language.

Yes, in isolation the question of != versus <> is a tiny little thing, 
silly to drop Python merely because of it. But it's not silly to care 
about the feel of the language. Python is as good as it is because Guido 
cares very much indeed about the feel of the language, and so do many of 
we Python users.


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